Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Jackie Kahle, Stephen Boyer, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff

Related Topics: Virtualization, SOA & WOA, Open Source, Cloud Expo, Apache

Virtualization: Article

Case Study: Transaction Management Stabilizes Virtual Environments

‘Knowledge is power’ and IT solutions are no exception

For a company like Lafarge, the dispatching of trucks and materials is mission critical. So when the performance of IT applications supporting this function suffers, it's bad for business.

Based in Paris, France, Lafarge is a provider of building materials, with more than $15 billion in annual revenue and 68,000 employees in 64 nations. It specializes in cement, aggregates and concrete. If fleet drivers run into delays in getting these materials to construction sites, deadlines are missed and the fallout can get costly. Yet, after launching a server virtualization project, such concerns surfaced due to a decline in the performance of key applications for dispatch operations.

Ultimately, however, this setback - or at least its resolution - helped pave the way for a better way of doing things: a company-wide, virtualized approach to enterprise resource planning (ERP), with a significant investment in Vblock. Vblock brings together EMC's storage, VMware's virtualization and Cisco's server and networking technology. It makes for rapid deployments with boasts of offering "Private Cloud in a Rack."

This move made sense. The virtualization of ERP can drop project's total cost of ownership by 30 percent, according to the Info-Tech Research Group. And Vblock is emerging as a popular tool for ERP and other purposes. Overall, the business behind Vblock, Virtual Computing Environment Company (VCE), indicates that to-date revenues are on track to reach $3 billion in 2013.

But before Lafarge could take advantage of Vblock, it turned its focus to its virtualized dispatch situation.

Dispatch application performance stumbled after the server virtualization launch. This created an immense challenge for a large enterprise such as Lafarge. Small, simple applications only involve a handful of servers, so manually checking log files and rebooting servers when problems occur is feasible. But complex production applications entail hundreds of discrete nodes. In a large-scale virtual environment, the old-school, manually intense way of reading log files to find the problem simply doesn't work.

With a large mixture of physical and virtual servers, Lafarge's IT leadership realized it had a complicated task on its plate. When Lafarge Enterprise Infrastructure Architect Mariano Deluca was asked about the situation, he said that "despite having multiple tools that supplied specific hardware data and event logs, because our applications are so complex, Lafarge was spending too much time on finding the root cause of an issue."

Not only did the approach to troubleshooting require a large team of experts, it took a long time to figure out the cause of issues, if they could be found at all - which wasn't the case with the dispatch applications.

"To even get started on problem analysis," Deluca continued, "we needed to pull together a large, cross-functional team to review all the data."

That's when they turned to BlueStripe, to bring in a solution to help identify errors that were causing the problem. BlueStripe's FactFinder Transaction Performance & Availability Monitoring Solution tracks business transactions end-to-end across the data center, including virtual and cloud environments, monitoring every transaction, end to end, to maximize performance and availability management capabilities.

Once FactFinder was put in play, Lafarge quickly identified what was so unclear before: the transaction slowdowns were occurring only with newly deployed virtual servers, as opposed to the older physical servers that were converted to virtual. BlueStripe quickly ruled out typical errors for these kinds of issues and identified an obscure configuration oversight. In a few hours, Lafarge was able to isolate the root cause and take corrective action, solving a problem that had been going on for weeks.

"With FactFinder, we can get to the root cause of issues quickly just using resources within operations," said Deluca. "Then, we can easily push out the needed remediation for fast resolution."

Now that Lafarge's ERP system is on Vblock, they use FactFinder to monitor transaction and application performance. Throughout the application life cycle, FactFinder monitors live user/applications transactions and certifies application upgrades/deployments, as well as the Vblock infrastructure.

To get the full potential out of IT investments, IT Operations teams must understand how transactions, applications and infrastructure are connected. One way to think about it is being able to follow a transaction across the infrastructure to the slow component, then drilling down the application server stack to understand what caused the problem. As proven out by successes at Raymond James, Husqvarna, and Jackson Hewitt, this simple concept can be applied to any application in any part of the application life cycle to help deliver better performing applications, avoid surprise outages, and improve overall availability.

With full transaction visibility and a methodical way to use it, Lafarge is able to monitor all their applications in diverse technological environments, and the IT Operations team can now take control of the systems they manage. After all, "Knowledge is power", and IT solutions are no exception.

More Stories By Vic Nyman

Vic Nyman is the co-founder and COO of BlueStripe Software. He has over 20 years of experience in systems management and APM and has held leadership positions at Wily Technology, IBM Tivoli and Relicore/Symantec.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudian is a Foster City, Calif.-based software company specializing in cloud storage. Cloudian HyperStore® is an S3-compatible cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable hybrid cloud storage solutions. Cloudian actively partners with leading cloud computing environments including Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and the vast ecosystem of S3 compatible tools and applications. Cloudian's customers include Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, Nifty, and LunaCloud. The company has additional offices in China and Japan.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, will discuss the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data and analysis are providing the pull to meet customer expectations of a widely connected, multi-dimensional universe of people, things, and information.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Esri has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Esri inspires and enables people to positively impact the future through a deeper, geographic understanding of the changing world around them. For more information, visit http://www.esri.com.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
After a couple of false starts, cloud-based desktop solutions are picking up steam, driven by trends such as BYOD and pervasive high-speed connectivity. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, cuts through the hype and the acronyms, and discusses the emergence of full-featured cloud workspaces that do for the desktop what cloud infrastructure did for the server. He’ll discuss VDI vs DaaS, implementation strategies and evaluation criteria.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Cloud Computing is evolving into a Big Three of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud 360: Multi-Cloud Bootcamp, being held Nov 4–5, 2014, in conjunction with 15th Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, CA, delivers a real-world demonstration of how to deploy and configure a scalable and available web application on all three platforms. The Cloud 360 Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, an analyst with Gigaom Research, is the first bootcamp that introduces the core concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based on the workings of the Big Three platforms – Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Azure VMs. Bootcamp attendees will get to see the big picture and also receive the knowledge needed to make the best cloud decisions for their business applications and entire enterprise IT organization.
“Distrix fits into the overall cloud and IoT model around software-defined networking. There’s a broad category around software-defined networking that’s focused on data center, and we focus on the WAN,” explained Jay Friedman, President of Distrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the Internet of @ThingsExpo, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Internet of @ThingsExpo 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading IoT industry players in the world.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at 15th Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, Vice President, Product Strategy of LogMeIn's Xively IoT Platform, will show you how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
“The Internet of Things is a wave that has arrived and it’s growing really fast. The concern at Aria Systems is making sure that people understand the ramifications of their attempts to monetize whatever it is they build on the Internet of Things," explained C Brendan O’Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect at Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the Internet of @ThingsExpo, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Internet of @ThingsExpo 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading IoT industry players in the world.
The Internet of Things is a natural complement to the cloud and related technologies such as Big Data, analytics, and mobility. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Joe Weinman will lay out four generic strategies – digital disciplines – to exploit emerging digital technologies for strategic advantage. Joe Weinman has held executive leadership positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and Telx, in areas such as corporate strategy, business development, product management, operations, and R&D.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DevOps.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's “DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo,” which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. DevOps.com is where the world meets DevOps. It is the largest collection of original content relating to DevOps on the web today Featuring up-to-the-minute news, feature stories, blogs, bylined articles and more, DevOps.com is where the thought leaders of the DevOps movement make their ideas known.
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that allow marketers to cut through the noise and design their campaigns around strong, predictive signals, rather than arbitrary statistics. SendGrid sends up to half a billion emails a day for customers such as Pinterest and GitHub. All this email adds up to more text than produced in the entire twitterverse. We track events like clicks, opens and deliveries to help improve deliverability for our customers – adding up to over 50 billion useful events every month. While SendGrid data covers only abo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the Web Host Industry Review has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 2000, The Web Host Industry Review has made a name for itself as the foremost authority of the Web hosting industry providing reliable, insightful and comprehensive news, reviews and resources to the hosting community. TheWHIR Blogs provides a community of expert industry perspectives. The Web Host Industry Review Magazine also offers a business-minded, issue-driven perspective of interest to executives and decision-makers. WHIR TV offers on demand web hosting video interviews and web hosting video features of the key persons and events of the web hosting industry. WHIR Events brings together like-minded hosting industry professionals and decision-makers in local communities. TheWHIR is an iNET Interactive property.